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Publication numberUS20050101250 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/889,533
Publication dateMay 12, 2005
Filing dateJul 12, 2004
Priority dateJul 10, 2003
Also published asUS7098788, US7155202, US7339493, US7397346, US20050035854, US20050038860, US20050057357, US20050057361, US20050060088, US20050062637, US20050071879, US20050132047, US20050262212, WO2005008914A1
Publication number10889533, 889533, US 2005/0101250 A1, US 2005/101250 A1, US 20050101250 A1, US 20050101250A1, US 2005101250 A1, US 2005101250A1, US-A1-20050101250, US-A1-2005101250, US2005/0101250A1, US2005/101250A1, US20050101250 A1, US20050101250A1, US2005101250 A1, US2005101250A1
InventorsAbdelsalam Helal, William Mann
Original AssigneeUniversity Of Florida Research Foundation, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mobile care-giving and intelligent assistance device
US 20050101250 A1
Abstract
A mobile communication device can include a cellular radio-frequency transceiver serviceable by a commercial carrier and a short-range wireless transceiver for communicating with a local access point. The mobile communication device can further include a processor configured to control the operation of the short-range wireless transceiver and the cellular radio-frequency transceiver.
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Claims(14)
1. A mobile communication device comprising:
a cellular radio-frequency transceiver serviceable by a commercial carrier;
a short-range wireless transceiver for communicating with a local access point; and
a processor configured to control the operation of said short-range wireless transceiver and said cellular radio-frequency transceiver.
2. The device of claim 1, further comprising:
an ultrasonic beacon configured to be detected by at least one ultrasonic receiver.
3. The device of claim 1, further comprising:
a code reader.
4. The device of claim 1, further comprising:
a temperature sensor.
5. The device of claim 1, further comprising:
a radio frequency identification mechanism.
6. A mobile communication device comprising:
at least one biosensing device; and
a processor configured to process the information received from the biosensing device.
7. The device of claim 6, wherein the biosensor is a chemical sensor configured to detect airborne particulates.
8. The device of claim 6, wherein the biosensor is a galvanic skin sensor configured to measure a change in conductivity of skin.
9. A system for providing mobile care-giving and intelligent assistance comprising:
a mobile phone comprising a short-range wireless transceiver configured to communicate with a local computing device; and
a proxy server comprising a short-range wireless transceiver configured to establish communications between a target device and said mobile phone, wherein said proxy server and said mobile phone communicate over a short-range wireless connection.
10. The system of claim 9, said proxy server further comprising a gateway further comprising:
a data store for storing a programmatic action corresponding to a predetermined event; and
a software engine configured to initiate the programmatic action responsive to the occurrence of the predetermined event.
11. The system of claim 9, wherein the short-range wireless connection uses an 802.11x wireless local area networking protocol.
12. The system of claim 9, wherein the target device is at least one of a remote service provider or a local controller.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein the remote service provider is at least one of a pharmaceutical supply system, a grocery supply system, and a weather service provider.
14. The system of claim 12, wherein the local controller is an X10 controller.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/486,018, filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Jul. 10, 2003, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/490,717, filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Jul. 29, 2003, the entirety of both which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of portable computing devices and, more particularly, to a portable computing device for providing mobile care-giving and intelligent assistance.

2. Description of the Related Art

The world population of people over the age of 65 is growing rapidly. Moreover, the costs associated with home health services for elder persons with disabilities is increasing with the rapidly growing elder population. Further, the quality of life and independence of elder individuals are impacted by disabilities, and health and caregiver systems are increasingly stressed as the numbers of elder citizens increase.

Many of the elderly reach a point where they can no longer live independently without some form of assistance. Often the elderly person is taken to a care facility, such as a nursing home or assisted care center. However, it is well documented that those who live in nursing homes tend to require more hospitalization and medical visits. Further, once moved into a facility, it is common for elders to become depressed due to a lack of independence. This evidence suggests that it is in everyone's best interests for the elderly to live independently for as long as possible. At the same time, there is a need to innovate cost-effective ways to help elders maintain their independence, and reduce caregiver burden.

Many elders capable of living independently still require some assistance performing daily activities. For example, elders commonly suffer from some memory dysfunction, and may need to be reminded to perform critical daily tasks, such as eating a certain number of meals a day, feeding a pet, calling a relative, or the like. Further, some elders may require assistance making decisions, such as deciding what to wear prior to going outside. Additionally, elders who live independently may need assistance with the various responsibilities of maintaining a residence, such as providing security, ensuring that all doors and windows are locked, and checking for potential disastrous events, such as water leaks, gas leaks, fires, or the like. Still, elders who live alone may need the assurance that a caregiver can be reached immediately in the event of an emergency.

Technology now has permeated virtually all facets of life in today's society, and has brought with it many conveniences and time saving features. Elders, and other persons who suffer from cognitive impairments, should be able to take advantage of computerized devices to augment their fading sensory and motor abilities. However, many technological devices designed to make life simpler, such as cell phones, PDAs, and personal computers, are designed for young and highly mobile individuals, and are intimidating to those with cognitive challenges.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an apparatus for providing care-giving and intelligent assistance using a mobile communication device, such as a mobile telephone. More specifically, the mobile communication device can allow a user, such as an elder, to access a variety of functions which will support the elder in many aspects of daily life. The ergonomic features of the mobile communication device are specifically designed to maximize use by a cognitively impaired user, such as an elder. The mobile communication device can also allow a user to control a home or other environment by interfacing with an X10 controller, or other security system. Further, the mobile communication device can allow the user to access a variety of service systems from the convenience of the user's home, or other location. Additionally, the mobile communication device can provide intelligent assistance to the user, such as reminding the user to perform a specific task, informing the user of the weather outside, and instructing the user of how to dress for the weather.

One aspect of the present invention can include a mobile communication device. The mobile communication device can include a short-range wireless transceiver for communicating with a local access point, and a processor configured to control the operation of the short-range wireless transceiver. In another arrangement, the mobile communication device can include an ultrasonic beacon configured to be detected by at least one ultrasonic receiver. In yet another arrangement, the device can include a code reader, a temperature sensor, and/or a radio frequency identification mechanism.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the mobile communication device can include at least one biosensing device, and a processor configured to process the information received from the biosensing device. In one aspect, the biosensor can be a chemical sensor configured to detect airborne particulates. In another aspect, the biosensor can be a galvanic skin sensor configured to measure a change in conductivity of skin. It should be appreciated that the mobile communication device further can include a cellular radio-frequency (RF) transceiver for communication through a commercial carrier.

Another aspect of the invention can include a system for providing mobile care-giving and intelligent assistance. The system can include a mobile phone comprising a short-range wireless transceiver configured to communicate with a local computing device. The system can also include a proxy server comprising a short-range wireless transceiver configured to establish communications between a target device and the mobile phone, where the proxy server and the mobile phone communicate over a short-range wireless connection. Further, the proxy server can include a gateway. The gateway can include a data store for storing a programmatic action corresponding to a predetermined event. The gateway can further include a software engine configured to initiate the programmatic action responsive to the occurrence of the predetermined event.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the short-range wireless connection can use an 802.11 wireless networking protocol. In one aspect, the target device can be at least one of a remote service provider or a local controller. In one embodiment, the remote service provider can be a pharmaceutical supply system, a grocery supply system, or a weather service provider. In another embodiment, the local controller can be an X10 controller.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

There are shown in the drawings, embodiments that are presently preferred; it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of a mobile communication device (MCD) configured in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of an MCD in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating another embodiment of an MCD in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating another embodiment of an MCD in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating yet another embodiment of an MCD in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system within which an MCD can be utilized in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating yet another system within which an MCD can be utilized in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of a mobile communications device (MCD) 100 in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. As shown, the MCD 100 can include a display 105, one or more control or operational keys 110, which can include special function command keys for operation of one or more of the functions disclosed herein, alphanumeric keys or buttons 115, and one or more antennas 120 (which may be configured to be fully located within the MCD 100). The MCD 100 further can include a battery or other power source. Notably, the MCD 100 can include a rechargeable battery as well as additional power sources to enable the MCD 100 to be active for extended periods of time.

The physical arrangement of the MCD 100 has been provided for purposes of illustration only. As such, it should be appreciated that the various components can be located in any of a variety of different configurations. For example, the MCD 100 can include additional keys or controls disposed on the frontal portion or the sides of the unit.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, the physical arrangement of the MCD 100 can be conducive for use by visually impaired individuals or those that may have difficulty accessing and/or operating the keys and/or controls of conventional mobile computing devices, such as the elderly, persons with physical disabilities, or other infirmities. For example, the control keys 110 and the alphanumeric keys 115 of the MCD 100 can be larger in size than conventional mobile device keys and can be spaced a greater distance from one another with respect to both the width and length of the MCD 100. That is, the horizontal key spacing and the vertical key spacing can be greater than that found with conventional mobile devices. Further, the control keys 110 can include Braille markings for key identification purposes.

The display 105 can be a liquid crystal display (LCD) implemented in either grayscale or color, a touch screen, or any other type of suitable display screen. The display 105 can be larger than those found on conventional mobile computing devices and can have an increased contrast ratio if so desired.

The MCD 100 can include a variety of sensors. As shown in FIG. 1, the MCD 100 can be configured with one or more location detection mechanisms 125 to be described herein. While the location detection mechanism 125 can be positioned on the MCD 100 in any of a variety of different locations, according to one embodiment, the location detection mechanism 125 can be positioned at the bottom portion of the MCD 100. Still, the location detection mechanism 125, as is the case with other sensors to be described herein, can be located within or throughout the exterior portion of the MCD 100.

The MCD 100 can also be configured to include a chemical sensor 140. While the chemical sensor 140 can be positioned on the MCD 100 in any of a variety of different locations, according to one embodiment, the chemical sensor can be positioned at the top portion of the MCD 100. Additionally, a temperature sensor 130 for measuring the ambient temperature of an environment can be located near the top or bottom of the MCD 100. Similarly, a bar code reader 145 can be located on the top or bottom of the MCD 100. Notably, the chemical sensor 140, the temperature sensor 130, and the bar code reader 145 can be positioned such that the sensors are not obstructed by the hand of a user when held.

The MCD 100 can also include physiological sensors, such as a galvanic skin sensor 135, which measures the change in a user's skin conductivity resulting from stress, excitement, or shock. The galvanic skin sensor 135 can be positioned to come in contact with a hand of a user when the MCD 100 is held, and can therefore be disposed on either side portion of the MCD 100, as well as on the backside of the MCD 100. Similarly, the MCD 100 can be configured to include other physiological sensors to measure such parameters as blood volume, respiration, heart rate, skin resistivity, body temperature, or the like.

The MCD 100 can further include a variety of other sensors disposed throughout the exterior portion of the MCD 100. For example, the MCD 100 can include a radio frequency identification (RFID) reader (not shown) and a GPS outdoor location sensor (not shown). It should be appreciated that the aforementioned examples of sensors have been provided for purposes of illustration only and should not be construed as limitations of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a three dimensional, cross sectional view of the MCD depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. According to one embodiment, the bar code reader 145 can be mounted on the top edge portion of the MCD 100. Further, the antenna 120 and the chemical sensor 140 can be positioned on the top edge portion of the MCD 100, while the temperature sensor 130 and the display 105 can be located on the front side portion of the MCD 100. Notably, FIG. 2 has been provided for purposes of illustration only. It should be appreciated that the components depicted in FIG. 2 can be implemented in a variety of configurations throughout the exterior of the MCD 100. As such, FIG. 2 is not intended as a limitation of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of an MCD 300 configured in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. As shown, the MCD 300 can include a processor 305, a mobile telephony transceiver 310, for example a cellular radio-frequency (RF) transceiver that can be serviced by a commercial carrier, audio circuitry 315, and a memory 325. Each of the aforementioned components can be communicatively linked via a suitable communications bus 350 or other circuitry. For example, the MCD 300 can be implemented as a mobile phone having the features described herein.

The processor 305 can execute a suitable operating system and one or more applications for controlling the various functions of the MCD 300. For example, the processor 305 can execute an operating system that can support the execution of one or more applications intended to run on that platform and which support operation of the various functions and features disclosed herein. As the MCD 300 can include one or more sensors to be described in greater detail herein, the operating system and computing architecture can be designed to support the operation of such sensors. According to one embodiment, the MCD 300 can be compatible with the JAVA 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME®.

The memory 325 can be implemented as random access memory, read-only memory, erasable programmable read-only memory, or any other type of physical memory suitable for use within a mobile communication device, such as the MCD 300. It should be appreciated that the memory 325, while illustrated as a separate component, can be incorporated into the processor 305 or another component. In any case, the memory 325 can include programmatic instructions to be executed by the processor 305 as well as any operational data necessary for operation of the MCD 300.

Wireless signals can be received and sent via the antenna 355 which can be suited for longer-range mobile communications such as conventional cellular or personal communication service (PCS) communications. Accordingly, the antenna 355 can be operatively connected to the mobile telephony transceiver 310. Signals detected by antenna 355 can be provided to the mobile telephony transceiver 310 for processing and decoding. For example, the mobile telephony transceiver 310 can include a codec for coding and decoding information received or to be sent via wireless transmission. The transceiver 310 can make the decoded signals and/or information available to other components of the MCD 300 for processing. Outbound information received by the mobile telephony transceiver 310 can be coded and/or formatted for wireless transmission by the codec and then provided to the antenna 355 for transmission.

Thus, it should be appreciated that the MCD 300 can communicate via conventional mobile calls and access wireless networks, for example using Wireless Access Protocol or another suitable data wireless communications protocol, such that the MCD 300 can access the Internet, the Web, and/or a wide area network, as well as any applications and/or services disposed on such networks via a wireless communications link.

The audio circuitry 315 can include a microphone or other audio input transducer for receiving sound and one or more analog-to-digital converters for digitizing the received sound. The audio circuitry 315 further can include one or more digital-to-analog converters for converting digital information into an analog signal, and one or more analog-to-digital converters for converting an analog signal into a digital format. The audio circuitry 315 can include a speaker or other audio output transducer for generating sound from an analog signal as well as one or more amplifiers for driving the speaker.

It should be appreciated that the audio circuitry 315 can include additional processors, such as digital signal processors (DSPs) as may be required for processing audio and performing functions such as audio encoding, audio decoding, noise reduction, and the like. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the audio circuitry can be implemented using one or more discrete components. In another arrangement, the audio circuitry 315 can be implemented using one or more integrated circuits configured to perform the various functions disclosed herein. Thus, the MCD 300 can be configured to play various audio formats from streaming formats to MP3's, or other audio file formats such as .wav or .aiff files.

The audio circuitry 315 can also include and/or be communicatively linked to automatic speech recognition (ASR) and synthetic speech generation components that can be used to perform text-to-speech and speech-to-text conversions. When the audio circuitry 315 includes ASR and/or speech generation components, suitable software and/or firmware can be embedded within the audio circuitry 315, and/or executed by the processor 305. When the audio circuitry 315 is communicatively linked to remotely located ASR and/or speech generation components, communications between the audio circuitry 315 and the remotely located components can occur using the mobile telephony transceiver 310, the interface port 345, or any other suitable interface.

The MCD 300 can also include one or more interface ports 345 used to physically connect devices and/or peripherals to the MCD 300. For example, the interface port 345 can be a standard wall jack to initiate telephone calls over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The interface port 345 can also include a universal serial bus (USB) port, a firewire (IEEE 1394) port, a parallel port, a serial port, an Ethernet port, an audio port, or the like. Use of the interface port 345 for communicatively linking the MCD 300 with external devices can be advantageous in situations where wireless connectivity may not be available, is intermittent, or otherwise unsuitable for a particular purpose.

As noted, the MCD 300 can include a variety of sensors. As shown in FIG. 3, the MCD 300 can be configured with a galvanic skin sensor 335. The galvanic skin sensor 335 can be configured to detect anxiety related conditions being experienced by the user. That is, the galvanic skin sensor 335 can be configured to measure the psychogalvanic reflex of the user that results in a change in the conductivity of the skin during periods of stress, excitement, or shock. Under such conditions skin conductivity increases, whereas during periods of relaxation conductivity declines to a minimum.

Each of the various components of the MCD 300 disclosed herein can be communicatively linked with one another using appropriate circuitry, whether through the memory 325, one or more additional memories (not shown), the processor 305, one or more additional interface processors or logic controllers (not shown), and/or the communications bus 350. One skilled in the art will recognize that the components disclosed herein can be embodied in other forms and that the configuration disclosed and described with reference to FIG. 3 is provided for purposes of illustration only. For example, the components can be implemented as one or more discrete components, as one or more processors, logic controllers, DSPs, or any combination thereof.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of an MCD 400 configured in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. The components of the MCD 400 are substantially similar to the components described with reference to MCD 300 in FIG. 3. That is, the MCD 400 can include a processor 405, a mobile telephony transceiver 410 as previously described, an antenna 455, audio circuitry 415, a memory 425, and an interface port 445. Further, the aforementioned components can be communicatively linked via a suitable communications bus 450 or other circuitry. The MCD 400 can be implemented as a mobile phone having the features described herein.

The MCD 400 can also include a variety of sensors. As shown in FIG. 4, the MCD 400 can be configured to include a chemical sensor 435. According to one aspect of the present invention, the chemical sensor 435 can operate as an electronic or artificial nose for the detection and identification of odors, vapors, gases, or the like. For example, the chemical sensor 435 can include a chemical sensing system and a pattern recognition system. In one embodiment, the chemical sensing system can include an array of chemical sensors, such as gas sensors, where each sensor can measure a different property of the sensed chemical. The sensor array can be configured to “sniff” the vapors from a sample and provide a set of measurements to the pattern recognition system. Accordingly, the pattern recognition system can compare the pattern of the measurements to stored patterns for known materials.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the chemical sensor 435 can be configured to detect potentially harmful household odors, such as carbon monoxide, as well as hazardous chemical spills, gas leaks, smoke, or the like. This embodiment can be used for early detection of potentially harmful situations, or when the sensing ability of the user is impaired in some way. In another embodiment, the chemical sensor 435 can be configured to identify the contents of a container, such as medicine in a bottle. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the chemical sensor 435 can also be a diagnostic tool for detecting odors associated with certain diseases, undrinkable water, spoiled food, or the like. Notably, the aforementioned examples of applications for the chemical sensor 435 are not intended as limitations of the present invention, but rather as examples intended to broaden the scope of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating an embodiment of an MCD 500 configured in accordance with the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. The components of the MCD 500 are substantially similar to the components described with reference to MCD 300 in FIG. 3 and MCD 400 in FIG. 4 respectively. That is, the MCD 500 can include a processor 505, a mobile telephony transceiver 510, an antenna 555, audio circuitry 515, a memory 525, and an interface port 575. Further, the MCD 500 can also be configured to include a plurality of sensor devices to be described herein. The aforementioned components can be communicatively linked via a suitable communications bus 550 or other circuitry. The MCD 500 can be implemented as a mobile phone having the features described herein.

The MCD 500 also can include a short-range wireless transceiver 520 as well as an antenna 560 operatively connected thereto. The short-range wireless transceiver 520 can both send and receive data. For example, according to one embodiment of the present invention, the short-range wireless transceiver 520 can be implemented as a BlueTooth-enabled wireless transceiver, or as a transceiver configured to communicate via one of the 802.11 family of short-range wireless communications specifications. The short-range wireless transceiver 520 and accompanying antenna 560 can be configured to communicate using any of a variety of similar short-range, wireless communications protocols and/or systems. Through the short-range wireless transceiver 520, the MCD 500 can communicate with a local area network, a short-range network, or device. For example, MCD 500 can send and receive data as well as speech to be processed or played. Still, the various examples disclosed herein have been provided for purposes of illustration only and should not be construed as limitations of the present invention.

As noted, the MCD 500 can include a plurality of sensor devices. For example, the ultrasonic beacon 540 or transponder can be used to determine the position of the MCD 500 within a defined space. That is, the ultrasonic beacon 540 can be detected by one or more ultrasonic receivers referred to as pilots or monitors. These pilot devices can be dispersed throughout a room or other environment, known as a “smart” environment, to detect the location of the MCD 500, or any other device having one or more such ultrasonic beacons 540.

It should be appreciated, however, that the present invention is not limited to the use of ultrasonic beacons as a means of determining location. Rather, any suitable technology can be used. For example, the MCD 500 can include an RFID mechanism 580, which can be a radio-frequency-based location detection system, such as one utilizing radio-frequency identifier tags or another radio-frequency beacon. In another example, the MCD 500 can be equipped with a Global Positioning System receiver or other satellite-based location detection system. (not shown).

The MCD 500 can also include a variety of other sensors. For example, the MCD 500 can include a chemical sensor 535 and a galvanic skin sensor 570, which are similar in operation to those depicted with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3 respectively. Other sensors can include a temperature sensor 590 and a code reader 585. The temperature sensor 590, for example, can be configured to measure the temperature of the user, the ambient temperature of the environment, or the like. The code reader 585 can be an optical device capable of reading various coding schemes such as bar codes, or other visual patterns, including, but not limited to, single and/or multi-dimensional bar codes or other visual coding schemes. The code reader 585 can include a scanning device capable of directing a beam of light across the visual code and measuring the amount of light that is reflected back as dark areas reflect less light than white or lighter areas. The scanner converts the light energy into electrical energy, which is then converted to data by a codec.

It should be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the MCD 500 can include a variety of other sensors, such as physiological sensors configured to measure respiration, blood volume/pressure, heart rate, or the like. The listing of sensors disclosed herein is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather is an example intended to broaden the scope of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. Further, FIG. 5 depicts the sensors as being integrated into the MCD 500. Alternately, the sensors can be external devices which can communicate with the MCD 500 in a variety of ways, such as via the interface port 575, or via a BlueTooth-enabled wireless transceiver. This also applies to the sensors depicted in FIGS. 3 and 4 with reference to MCD 300 and MCD 400 respectively.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system 600 within which a mobile communication device MCD 600 can be utilized in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. System 600 depicts the software architecture of the present invention, which can include an MCD 600 and a server 620.

According to one embodiment, the MCD 600 can be compatible with J2ME®. J2ME, or another suitable platform, allows MCDs, such as cell phones, to engage as clients in networked client/server interactions, and execute customized programs. For example, in a J2ME implementation, the MCD 600 can include a Kilobyte Virtual Machine (KVM) 608, which is a JAVA virtual machine designed for use with J2ME. Further, the MCD 600 can contain at least two programming specifications for use with J2ME, the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) 606, and the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 604.

The CLDC 606 can define the application program interface (API) and KVM 608 functions needed to support the MCD 600. The MIDP 604 can add to the CLDC 600 the functions needed to integrate J2ME and the MCD 600, such as the user interface, networking, and messaging details. Further, the MCD 600 can contain one or more MIDlets 602, which are small JAVA applications similar to applets for use within mobile devices, such as the MCD 600. For example, MIDlet 602 can be configured to send user commands and information between the MCD 600 and the server 620. It should be appreciated, however, that the MCD 600 can support other MIDlets for performing a plurality of functions.

The MCD 600 can be configured to accommodate a general-purpose computing platform which can access servers and information sources on a network, including Web services. The MCD 600 can include a fixed Internet address (routable IP) 612, which identifies each sender or receiver of information that is sent in packets across the Internet. Additionally, the MCD can include a mobile radio frequency (RF) interface 614 and wireless local RF interface 616. The mobile RF interface 614 can be controlled by a commercial carrier, which incurs connection charges for voice minutes or data packets. Using its mobile RF interface 614, the MCD 600 can initiate or receive a voice phone call through the nearest base station. It can also send or receive data packets through a base station, which can be connected through a gateway to the Internet. Further, the MCD 600 can communicate with any routable IP on the Internet, including server 620 through a broadband Internet service provider.

The wireless local RF interface 616 can be configured to communicate using any of a variety of short-range, wireless communications protocols and/or systems, such as Bluetooth, or via the 802.11 family of short-range wireless communications specifications. Such short-range capability can provide local connections between the MCD 600 and an appropriate near-by wireless access point. Using its wireless local RF interface 616, the MCD 600 can connect to a home network via a near-by access point. Further, the MCD 600 can send or receive data packets to/from the server 620, or route packets through a home network router to external Internet destinations.

FIG. 6 also depicts the server 620, which can function as an interface between the MCD 600 and external devices and systems by creating a series of connectivity paths between the MCD 600 and the user's home environment. As shown, the server 620 can include a client/proxy gateway 615 and a series of specialized middleware proxies to be described herein. The server 620 can be configured to be in an “always-on” mode, and can include a routable Internet Protocol (IP) address. Further, the server 620 can connect to the Internet through a broadband Internet service provider, such as a cable modem, DSL, or dial-up if so required. The server 620 can also be configured to connect to a high-speed, home wire-line network, such as fast Ethernet.

The software architecture of the server 620, which is illustrated in FIG. 6, can be event driven, where actions are initiated in response to the occurrence of specific events and/or conditions. Accordingly, the client/proxy gateway 615 can include a rules data store 625 and a corresponding rules engine 630. The data store 625 can specify and store rules corresponding to events, conditions, and actions. Upon the occurrence of an event and/or condition, the engine 630 can evaluate the rules stored within the data store 625 and initiate the appropriate action. For example, event X can be a user command issued from the MCD 600. A corresponding rule can be stored in the data store 625 specifying an action Y. Upon detection of event X, the engine 630 can initiate the action Y.

The engine 630 can operate in conjunction with a series of specialized middleware proxies, such as an X10 proxy 640, one or more microcontroller proxies 650, and one or more Internet proxies 660. A proxy can provide an interface between the MCD 600 and various entities in the intelligent environment. That is, the proxies 640, 650 and 660 can be configured to understand both the low level details of events and actions as well as any corresponding abstractions, and will provide the correct mapping between the two. Further, all proxies will conform to a unified representation of events, conditions, and actions.

The X10 proxy 640 can interface the MCD 600 to an X10 home controller via the client/proxy gateway 615. An X10 home controller can be connected through the home power-line network to a plurality of X10 module interfaces, which can remotely monitor and/or control various home appliances, devices, alarm circuitry, or the like. In operation, an X10 event can be a command issued from the MCD 600 to turn on the living room lights. The data store 625 can store a corresponding rule specifying that a function call be initiated to the X10 proxy 640. The function call can be a request to the X10 home controller to activate the X10 module interface controlling the lights. Thus, upon receipt of the command to turn on the lights, the engine 630 can initiate the corresponding function call to the X10 proxy 640.

The microcontroller proxy 650 can interface the MCD 600 to a microcontroller disposed within the intelligent environment via the client/proxy gateway 615. A microcontroller, such as a Dallas Semiconductor Tiny Internet Interface (TINI), can be configured to monitor and/or control any one of a plurality of devices and/or appliances, such as a TV remote control, a garage door opener, smart tags, JAVA rings, or the like. In operation, a microcontroller event can be a signal received by the microcontroller proxy 650 from a microcontroller indicating that the doorbell is ringing. Subsequently, the engine 630 can initiate an action indicated by a corresponding rule stored in the data store 625, for example, to display an image of the person at the door on the MCD 600, for example by interfacing with a home security system or other camera.

The Internet proxy 660 can interface the MCD 600 to an Internet-based service via the client/proxy gateway 615. Internet-based services can include service providers, such as a weather service provider, or web-based supply systems, such as a grocery supply system or a pharmaceutical supply system. For example, an Internet service event can be a request issued from the MCD 600 for a weather report. In this case, the engine 630 can initiate an action specified by a corresponding rule stored in the data store 625, such as, request a weather report from a weather service provider via the Internet proxy 660, and display the report on the MCD 600.

The listing of proxies disclosed herein is not intended to be an all inclusive list, but rather is an example intended to broaden the scope of the present invention. It should be appreciated that specialized proxies can be developed for each class of events within the user's environment. Further, the server 620 can include specially adapted administrative tools that will allow for the rapid creation of intelligent environments, and minimize the overhead storage requirement. Such administrative tools can allow additional proxies to be added to an existing system in a plug-and-play format such that retrofitting will not require recompiling of the software and middleware applications.

It should also be appreciated that the present invention can include a user profile including timing information specifying particular times when the user is to be located at home, when lights are to be turned off, when medications are to be taken, and time guidelines for other aspects of one's life. In any situation where the MCD 600 is to remind the user through a notification, the MCD 600 can be programmed to await a response. If no response is received, the MCD 600 can be configured to notify one or more persons and/or computing systems.

More particularly, the MCD 600 can be configured to notify one or more persons, whether family, friends, or medical personnel in the event that the user does not follow one or more of the guidelines programmed into the MCD 600. Such guidelines can include, but are not limited to, deviating from a particular dietary plan, not being located at home during certain time periods, not responding to reminders to take medications, and the like. Persons can be notified using any of a variety of different messaging techniques. For example, the MCD 600 can be configured to send predetermined audio messages, text messages, electronic mail messages, pages, telephone calls, including calls to 911, and the like.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system 700 within which an MCD 700 can be utilized in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. It should be appreciated that the MCD 700 can be configured to operate in a variety of environments, including indoor and outdoor environments. FIG. 7 depicts a smart space 720, which can be a customized environment equipped with suitable transceivers, communications equipment, and other controller units. For example, a home can be so configured. Alternately, a workspace, caretaking facility, building, park, mall, and/or other space that can be occupied and/or inhabited by persons can be configured as a smart space. In one embodiment the MCD 700 can interact within smart space 720. In another embodiment, the MCD 700 can operate within a standard environment that has not been specifically modified for the needs of a physically and/or mentally challenged person or other MCD 700 user.

The smart space 720 can also include a plurality of ultrasonic receivers 710, and a proxy 770. In one aspect of the present invention, the location of the MCD 700 can be determined by the system 700. The ultrasonic receivers 710 can detect a beacon signal emitted from an ultrasonic beacon disposed within the MCD 700, and represented by the dashed lines numbered 1 through 4 in FIG. 7. Information collected by the ultrasonic receivers 710 can be provided to the proxy 770 for processing such that the proxy 770 can determine the location of the MCD 700 within the smart space. Alternatively, the MCD 700 can determine its location within the smart space 720 based upon information from the beacons. Notably, the proxy 770 can be any processing device capable of being communicatively linked to one or more ultrasonic receivers 710 and the MCD 700, such as a computer executing a software application.

In another embodiment, a user can wear a jacket, vest, or other piece of clothing outfitted with one or more such beacons, for example on each shoulder. Such an arrangement allows the proxy 770 to detect not only the location of a user, but also the orientation of the user. The position of the beacon(s), whether within the MCD 700 or a piece of clothing, can be calculated based upon the time required by the ultrasonic waves to reach each receiver. A trilateration technique also can be used.

Still, as noted, any of a variety of location detection mechanisms can be used. For example, digital image processing using one or more video cameras, sound, and/or motion detection technology can be used to determine the location of a user. In the case where GPS or other satellite technology is used, the MCD 700 can determine its own location. Accordingly, such information can be sent to the proxy 770 through any of the aforementioned communication techniques.

The MCD 700 can incorporate a thin client 708, which can be a software application executing within the MCD 700. As shown, the MCD 700 can be communicatively linked to the proxy 770. Accordingly, the client 708 can interact with the proxy 770 on behalf of the MCD 700. The client 708 can include one or more application programs that allow the user to access the functionality of the various systems and/or devices communicatively linked to the proxy 770, to be described in greater detail herein. Notably, the proxy 770 can be configured with a multitude of MCD 700 and/or user specific settings so that information exchanged between the MCD 700 and the proxy 770 cam be tailored to meet the needs, capabilities, and privileges of different users and/or MCDs.

The proxy 770 can operate as an application server, and can be located within the home, or at a remote location outside of the home. In one embodiment, the MCD 700 can communicate directly with the proxy 770 via a short-range wireless connection, such as through the 802.11 family of wireless local area networking protocols, a Bluetooth transmission, or the like. Short-range communications can be used when the MCD 700 and the proxy 770 are located within the same home or location. In another embodiment, the MCD 700 can communicate indirectly to the proxy 770 via a conventional long range data link. For example, the MCD 700 can access the proxy 770 by interfacing with a mobile base station via a phone call or data connection. Such long range communications can be used when the MCD 700 is not located within, or proximate to, the location within which the proxy 770 is disposed. However, a mobile base station can also be used to communicate with the proxy 770 when it is in close proximity to the MCD 700. It should be appreciated that the MCD 700 can communicate with the proxy 770, or any other proxies, using any of a variety of different communications mechanisms, and that the MCD 700 is not limited to any specific communication mechanism.

In one embodiment, the proxy 770 can communicate with controller 705 on behalf of the MCD 700. The controller 705 can be any home automation and/or security system, such as an X10 computer-based control for home management. Notably, the MCD 700 can include one or more application programs that allow the user to access the functionality of the various devices connected to the controller 705, such as actuators and/or sensors to monitor and control household devices, appliances, emergency events, or the like. In yet another embodiment, the MCD 700 can be configured to interface with appliances having the ability to communicate and respond to remote operational controls, such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, stoves, and the like. Similarly, applications can be configured enabling the MCD 700 to control lighting. Accordingly, using an appropriate application, the MCD 700 can turn lights on or off, dim lights, and set timing features so that lights turn on or off automatically at predetermined times, etc. Notably, additional systems which can be wired for use inside and/or outside of a home, such as cameras and/or intercoms, visual and/or audio-based systems, and surveillance systems, can be communicatively linked to the controller 705, or the proxy 770, and controlled via the MCD 700.

With respect to audio, video (visual), and audiovisual systems, the MCD 700 can access an audio feed, a video feed, and/or an audiovisual feed, as well as receive audio and/or video files. For example, the MCD 700 can receive a sound signal, a digital image, or a video via short-range wireless communications, long range wireless communications, and/or wired communications as previously discussed. Accordingly, through the MCD 700 a user can view visitors at the front door if a camera is suitably positioned and communicatively linked with the proxy 770. Further, the MCD 700 can receive audio from audio and/or surveillance systems. Notably, if a stereo is capable of linking with the proxy 770, then the MCD 700 can be used to control the stereo as well as receive audio from the stereo such that one could listen to the stereo via the MCD 700.

It should be appreciated that while smart spaces have been described with reference to a single, centralized computer system, one or more computer systems can be included. For example, lighting can be controlled with one computer system while temperature is controlled by another, and appliances can be controlled by yet another computer system. The various computer systems may or may not communicate with one another so long as each is able to communicate with the MCD 700. Still, each system can be configured to communicate with the MCD 700 independently and operate on its own. For instance, each appliance can be a “smart” appliance having built-in communications and control mechanisms for being accessed remotely. In that case, each appliance need not communicate with other appliances or a centralized computing system so long as the appliance and/or system can communicate directly with the MCD 700.

As shown with reference to the above discussion, the MCD 700 can provide a user with an integrated means for controlling many, if not most or all, aspects of one's home. Users can be provided with intuitive interfaces as well as audio notifications for the various functions disclosed herein. The present invention further can provide users with a level of comfort knowing that various appliances and systems of one's home can be checked when away from home, or simply when retiring for the evening without leaving the comfort of one's room.

System 700 can also include a communications network 715. The network 715 can communicatively link to the MCD 700, for example via a mobile communications link. The network 715 can also communicatively link the proxy 770 and a plurality of service providers and supply systems, to be discussed herein. The communications network 715 is depicted as an Internet network. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that communications network 715 can also include a wide area network, the public switched telephone network (PSTN), mobile, or other data network.

In one aspect, the network 715 can communicatively link the proxy 770 on behalf of the MCD 700 to one or more service providers 765. For example, the service provider 765 can be a remote weather service provider which can provide weather reports, advice, and information to the user. In operation, the proxy 770 can query the weather service provider 765 for real-time weather information via the communications network 315. Upon receiving weather data from the service provider 765, the proxy 770 can transmit the information to the client 708 for presentation to the user. It should be appreciated that the client 708 can be configured to execute one or more software applications for presenting the information to the user, and making decisions and recommendations to the user based on the information.

Additional service providers 765 can include medical service providers, such as doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, and other third party services. The MCD 700 can be programmed to contact such service providers 765 upon request of the user and/or automatically upon the occurrence of a detected event. For example, if a biosensor within the MCD 700 detects abnormal physiological data from the user, the MCD 700 can automatically contact a doctor, nurse, 911, and/or a family member or friend. That is, the MCD 700 can include profile information or access profile information that can be stored on the proxy 770 or other remote computer system. Accordingly, as the health related or biological data detected by the MCD 700 regarding the user is obtained, such information can be compared with known baselines for that user.

In another aspect of the present invention, the network 715 can communicatively link the proxy 770 on behalf of the MCD 700 to one or more web-based supply systems, such as a grocery supply system 760, and a pharmaceutical supply system 775. In one embodiment, the MCD 700 can include an application configured to aid a user in ordering groceries. In the case where a market has provided a grocery order system, such as the grocery supply system 760, which can be accessed via the Web or another network connection, the user of the MCD 700 can place grocery orders. Notably, as potential users of the MCD 700 may have particular dietary needs, the MCD 700, or the proxy 770, can be programmed to include any dietary restrictions and/or particular foods that the user requires. For example, the MCD 700 can be programmed with one or more rules specifying which items may or may not be purchased by the user. Further, the MCD 700 can be configured to warn a user that the item being ordered is not an approved item, or prevent the user from ordering such an item.

Alternatively, the MCD 700 can be programmed with nutritional data concerning particular foods such that as a user orders items, a running nutritional count with respect to the foods that the user is ordering can be tracked, for example in terms of caloric intake, fat, cholesterol, saturated fat, and the like. Further, information such as dietary requirements can be downloaded from a trusted source, such as a doctor's Web site, from a user computer, can be read from a visual code using the code reader, or via any other means, including, but not limited to using a charging cradle with the ability to synchronize with a computing source, whether local or not.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, the MCD 700 can be programmed to communicate with the pharmaceutical supply system 775. For example, the MCD 700 can be programmed with a listing of each medication and/or prescribed substance a user is to take as well as the dosage guidelines and/or any other instructions including side effects pertaining to the medications. Accordingly, the MCD 700 can be used to automatically order refills, for example after a predetermined amount of time has passed. As the MCD 700 can be programmed with user prescription data including the time when medications are to be taken and dosages, the MCD 700 can calculate when the prescription is to be refilled.

Thus, the MCD 700 can remind the user, for example via an audio notification or a visual notification, to take particular medications at particular times and can remind a user to order or obtain a refill. Notably, the MCD 700 can require the user to respond to such a reminder or notification such that if no response is received, the MCD 700 can implement a programmatic action. For example, the MCD 700 can be programmed to contact a family member or a medical service provider. Such persons can be contacted via a page, an electronic mail, a text message, and/or a programmed audio message, for example after initiating a landline and/or cellular telephone call.

In yet another embodiment, the MCD 700 can be configured to automatically order a refill for the user by contacting the pharmaceutical supply system 775. The pharmaceutical supply 775 can be implemented as a Web site, an automated phone service, or another network accessible system. For example, the MCD 700 can place an order through a Web site, be programmed to leave an automated message on a pharmacy voice mail for reordering additional medication, or contact the pharmaceutical supply system 775 by establishing a communications link via another network connection.

The inventive arrangements disclosed herein can be used within a variety of additional applications. For example, according to one embodiment of the present invention, the MCD 700 can include a medical assistant application. The medical assistant application can remind an elder user, or any user for that matter, of the times when the user is to take medication. The MCD 700 can be used to scan the barcode printed on a prescription label. The MCD 700 then can retrieve information regarding the medicine from the pharmaceutical supply system 775. For example, the MCD 700 can retrieve the times when the user is to take a prescribed medication as well as the dosage to be taken. The MCD 700 can provide the user with alarms and intelligent reminders to take medication. The MCD 700 further can obtain and provide information about medicines, allergies, and side effects. The MCD 700 can track the quantity of the medicine and automatically order the medicine if quantity falls below a certain predetermined threshold. The medical assistant application further can be used to arrange home delivery.

It should be appreciated that the listing of service providers and systems disclosed herein is not intended to be an a comprehensive list, but rather is an example intended to broaden the scope of the present invention.

The present invention can be realized in hardware, software, or a combination of hardware and software. The present invention can be realized in a centralized fashion in one computer system, or in a distributed fashion where different elements are spread across several interconnected computer systems. Any kind of computer system or other apparatus adapted for carrying out the methods described herein is suited. A typical combination of hardware and software can be a general purpose computer system with a computer program that, when being loaded and executed, controls the computer system such that it carries out the methods described herein.

The present invention also can be embedded in a computer program product, which comprises all the features enabling the implementation of the methods described herein, and which when loaded in a computer system is able to carry out these methods. Computer program in the present context means any expression, in any language, code or notation, of a set of instructions intended to cause a system having an information processing capability to perform a particular function either directly or after either or both of the following: a) conversion to another language, code or notation; b) reproduction in a different material form.

This invention can be embodied in other forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof. Accordingly, reference should be made to the following claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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US8107878 *Nov 7, 2007Jan 31, 2012Motorola Mobility, Inc.Methods and apparatus for user-selectable programmable housing skin sensors for user mode optimization and control
US20090271503 *Apr 24, 2008Oct 29, 2009Embarq Holdings Company, LlcSystem and Method for Customizing Settings in a Communication Device for a User
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Classifications
U.S. Classification455/41.2
International ClassificationA61B5/0205, H04M1/725, G01C21/00, A61B5/00, G05B19/00, G01C21/34, G01C21/20, G08B25/00, G08C17/00, G05B19/042, G08B25/01, G08B25/08, A61B5/08, A61B5/024, H04M1/247, A61B5/053, G08C17/02, H04L12/28, G08B27/00, G06F19/00, G08B1/08, A61B5/11, G06F15/16, G06Q50/00, H04B7/00
Cooperative ClassificationG08C2201/51, G01C21/20, G06Q50/00, A61B5/024, G08C17/00, A61B5/0062, G08B21/025, G08B21/0275, G01C21/005, G08B13/19697, G08B21/028, G06Q10/10, G08C2201/41, G05B19/042, G08B13/19684, H04L12/2803, G08C2201/50, A61B5/0816, G06F19/3406, H04M1/72588, G06F19/3418, G06Q10/109, H04M1/72533, G08C2201/93, H04M1/72569, H04M1/7253, G08C17/02, A61B5/411, H04M1/72566, G08B27/006, G08B25/016, G08B25/009, G08C2201/61, H04M1/72572, G06Q90/00, G08B21/04, G06F15/16, A61B5/1112, G08B13/19658, A61B2560/0468, A61B5/02055, A61B5/1113, A61B5/0531, A61B5/7475, H04L12/282, A61B2560/0242, G08B21/0263, G08B21/0283, H04M2250/12, G08B25/008, H04L12/2836, G08C2201/42, A61B5/002, A61B5/0022, A61B2503/08
European ClassificationA61B5/41B, G08B13/196U3, G08B27/00P, A61B5/00B, G08B21/02A25T, G01C21/00C, A61B5/74M, G08C17/00, G08B25/00S, H04M1/725F2C, A61B5/11M, G08C17/02, G06Q50/00, H04M1/725F2G, G06Q10/10, H04L12/28H, A61B5/0205B, G08B21/02A19, G08B21/04, G06Q90/00, G05B19/042, G08B13/196Y, G08B13/196N2, G08B25/00P, A61B5/11N, G08B21/02A11G, G08B21/02A25, G06Q10/109, A61B5/00P1, G01C21/20, G06F15/16, G08B21/02A23, H04L12/28H3B, G08B25/01D, G06F19/34A, H04L12/28H5C, H04M1/725F1B1, H04M1/725F1B2, H04M1/725F5
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 25, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA RESEARCH FOUNDATION, INC., F
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HELAL, ABDELSALAM A.;MANN, WILLIAM C.;REEL/FRAME:015601/0297;SIGNING DATES FROM 20041129 TO 20041221